New York City’s Urban Plan Takes Shape

By PowerHouse Growers | Green Buildings & Architecture, Urban Design

When we discuss cities with a plan we have to give credit to the Big Apple. Mayor Bloomberg has done a great job of developing a vision for the city’s sustainability and putting his plan into action. The city has implemented carbon offsetting programs in order to achieve their goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030. These programs apply to commercial and government buildings as well as to homes of city residents.

Green roofs, solar panels, community gardens, and a gigantic nature reserve in the middle of the city are all great Urban Lifestyle elements that New York City has going for it. With a wicked foodie scene and being an epicenter of arts and culture, it’s no wonder Gen Y are attracted the city that never sleeps.

Let’s take a look at all the reasons why being a New Yorker feels so good.


The rooftop garden at the Rockefeller Center Plaza. Image Courtesy David Shankbone from Wikimedia Commons.

Lifestyle And Community

With a multicultural heart and a flavorful soul it sure is easy to develop an amazing lifestyle when living in New York City. With the highest walkability score in the country and an exceptional mass transit system, it’s easy for Millennials to choose convenient green commuting options. There is also a great bike lane route through the city for residents to take advantage of.

With plenty of community gardens and park spaces at your fingertips, living in the country’s most populous country doesn’t always have to feel like it. There are plenty of options to experience the biophilic city!

Urban Planning and Green Design

As mentioned at the top, Mayor Bloomberg has a carbon reduction plan for the city. The city has already elevated its air quality levels to the greatest they’ve been in over 50 years and has planted over 750,000 new trees across the city. They’ve done a fabulous job of getting the private sector on board with their carbon reduction plan with 40 Broadway theaters pledging their commitment to the plan.

They also offer incentive programs for green roof and solar panel installations over and above state and federal funding that can be received for various other energy reduction systems put in place both residentially and commercially.

Green Builds: New York City’s Urban Plan


New York City’s Urban Plan. A solar map showing green buildings in New York City, created by the University of New York. Image Courtesy Inside Climate News.

Buildings in New York contribute to 80 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. So it comes as no surprise that the City of New York is running a terrific green buildings campaign. The Greener, Greater Buildings Plan incentivizes existing buildings to implement waste management and energy conservation systems. This will contribute a great deal to the achievement of the carbon reduction goal.

5 Green Skyscrapers in NYC

New York City is home to many green buildings that don’t have the obvious characteristics that you might expect. For this reason tourists and residents alike may be unaware of some of the landmark buildings with green certifications staring them right in the face.

1. The Bank America: The most sustainable skyscraper in New York City with Platinum LEED certification was the first building in the world designed to achieve this rating. The building was designed by Cook+Fox Architects and built by Tishman Construction Corporation and includes many elements of sustainability and energy efficiency.

2. Empire State Building: New York City’s most iconic building has a LEED Gold certification and is now one of the city’s greenest buildings. Upon retrofit, the 80-year-old building’s windows were replaced making a huge impact on energy efficiency. A high efficiency heating and cooling system was also installed which could save as much as $4.4 million in energy costs.

3. Hearst Tower: The Tower received its LEED Gold certification upon completion in 2006 and was New York City’s first certified green skyscraper. Designed & built by Foster + Partners 85 percent of the materials were recycled and repurposed. The building now uses 26 percent less energy than a traditionally designed building.

4. One World Trade Center: Also known as the Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center has a rainwater harvesting system which powers the high-efficiency cooling towers of the building. The collected rainwater is also used to maintain and care for the building’s greenery.

5. Condé Nast Building: Though not having received LEED certification, the Condé Nast Building is most certainly still green. Completed by FXFOWLE Architects in 1999, the building boasts eco-friendly gas-fired absorption chillers paired with a high-performance insulation. It also contains a shading curtain wall for energy efficient heating and cooling needs.


Union Square in New York City. Image Courtesy Chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons.

Urban Agriculture

The city is host to a number of community based urban gardens throughout the city teaching residents the value of local food production. The Battery Conservancy is a 25 acre educational garden located in Battery Park at the south tip of Manhattan. The Conservancy hosts a number of events and has its hands in many community development projects.

The Gotham Greenhouse, located in Brooklyn is a hydroponic greenhouse and winner of the city-wide Green Business competition. Because of the controlled environment, the hydroponic greenhouse can produce year round.

Local Leaders

New York City is home to many forward-thinking and sustainable leaders. Here are five of them we give big-ups to.

Grow NYC – A non-profit that organizes environmental programs with the goal of engaging the community and educating residents on contributing to a clean and healthy environment.

New York Restoration Project – Founded by Bette Midler in 1995 the organization has worked for nearly two decades at ensuring the preservation of community gardens and green spaces so that they may be appreciated by all residents. Efforts include trash pick-up and disposal, and garden maintenance.

Trees New York– This environmental non-profit aims to plant and preserve urban forests in the City of New York. They also organize community programs and events to involve residents in the care and maintenance of urban forests.

The Highline – The Highline was built on an old railway line that was converted into a public park by the City of New York. It is maintained by Friends of the Highline so that it will continue to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative– Partnered with the Regional Plan Association, the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative crated, designed, and built the 14-mile long Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. They are also actively working at designing and building other green spaces in the community.

New York City has so much to be proud of. It went from being a nightmare tale of crime and poverty to a city that has shone a beacon of resilience and hope for the rest of the world to follow.

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What has your city done to preserve its natural spaces and encourage residents to get involved? Send us your stories to [email protected]

Feature Image: Empire State Building at Night. Image Courtesy Dan Nguyen via Flickr Creative Commons.

About The Author

PowerHouse Growers
PowerHouse Growers teaches you how to sustainably integrate urban agriculture into your cities, businesses, and homes. We provide clear solutions and benefits for better health, increased productivity, and lower environmental impact. By connecting you with experts, we bring awareness to solutions that may not be top of mind.